No-one can deny that Jeffrey Archer has led a colourful life. Surviving several scandals during his years as a member of parliament, he was charged in 2000 with perjury and perverting the course of justice. Archer was irrepressible; at the same time he wrote a play about a trial performed at the Theatre Royal, and at the end invited the audience to vote guilty or innocent. No such luck at his own court appearance, he was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison. He served only two years, but picked up some material as the guest of Her Majesty. He has put it to use as his main character spends time behind bars, in this series of the Clifton and Barrington families.
I read three of the five books with growing interest, so far, beginning with “The Sins of the Father,” which covers the years up to 1940, and ends with a cliff hanger that simply demands the reader must find out what happens in the second book, “Best Kept Secret”. By this time, I was completely hooked on the machinations of these two families, and read the third book, “Time Will Tell”.
Then came the fourth book. A tedious narrative, in which a rich Argentine sets out to revenge himself on the Clifton family. He attempts to kill their much loved son, and kills his own instead. This increases his rage, and nothing seems too extreme. It becomes thoroughly boring, and the fourth book ends with a bomb exploding on a ship in which the charming Emma Clifton and her family are travelling. Are they killed? Well, we don’t know.
A plotter in this is at the other end of the vessel, and wonders to quote the book “how many passengers on the upper deck could possibly survive.” Those stupid enough to buy the book— including yours truly— eagerly turned the page expecting the next chapter to reveal what happens. They were confronted by the following:
The story continues in VOLUME FIVE OF THE CLIFTON CHRONICLES coming in 2015. In other words, if you are foolish enough to buy the book you will find out next year. Or you may not find out. Who can tell? The book is called “Be Careful What You Wish For”, and be careful indeed when wasting money on this.
I make no apology for this review, or spoiling Archer’s game by revealing some of the plot. He and Pan MacMillan, his publisher, should be condemned for this shabby trick on people who buy books. We buy them for relaxation, for enjoyment, and certainly not to be told at the end of the book to come back in a year’s time to find out what happened next. Let’s hope no other author and publisher adopts this system of alienating their readers.
If you’d like to know more about The Clifton Chronicles, follow the links below: